Danny Henley: Motives behind our actions

Danny Henley

Each person’s life is filled with points of transition. Walk through a cemetery and you’ll see points of transition commemorated on headstones. One date marks the transition from being a living being sustained inside his or her mother to an individual existing outside the womb. The other date notes the transition from this life to the one to come.

Between those headstone dates, numerous other transitions take place during the course of a person’s life, the dates of which are frequently not remembered.

May 1, 2008, was a day of transition in my life. When I walked off the baseball field in Monroe City, Mo., that day, it was the last time I intended to do so as a high school baseball/softball umpire.

There was no formal commemoration of this day of transition in my life, nor did I expect there to be. The good folks of Monroe City in attendance at that day’s baseball game against Missouri Military Academy had no way of knowing I intended to close the door on my umpiring career after approximately 20 years.

My decision to give up umpiring had nothing to do with my physical ability to perform the duties of a baseball/softball official, which can be demanding if an umpire invests the appropriate amount of hustle.

Like just about any umpire, during the course of my officiating career I listened to the complaints of players, whining of coaches and catcalls of fans. Still, my decision to give up umpiring was not because I had reached my last nerve in regard to hearing people grouse.

I knew it was time to give up umpiring after a close review of my motives. While I never turned down a paycheck for having provided that service, it had become apparent to me that the compensation had surpassed my love for being a part of the game. And while that fact had not yet diluted my desire to do the best job I possibly could whenever I stepped onto a ballfield, I didn’t want to wait around until I reached the point when it might.

Whether we are conscious of it, or are willing to admit it, virtually every decision we make is influenced by personal motives.

A young child might do what a parent asks. The youngster’s motivation could be to receive the positive affirmation that comes from obeying that parent. It could also be to avoid a swat on the bottom that might come as a result of disobedience.

The motivation to “fit in” can drive teenagers in regard to the clothes they wear, music they listen to, TV programs they watch, phrases they say, people they associate with and places they hang out.

The actions of adults are no less motive-driven, although their motives may be far more difficult to discern. O.A. Battista said that people are always motivated by at least two reasons: the one they tell you about, and a secret one.

One might ask if a philanthropic act is motivated by an individual’s sincere desire to help others or to garner public notoriety? Is a policy statement by a political candidate based on what they truly believe is best for constituents or what they feel will garner more votes?

Even the decision to go to church can be called into question. Is a person there because they want to learn more about God and his plans for mankind, or simply because he or she believes their appearance enhances their public image?

While everyone is capable of concealing their motives from the world, people would do well to remember Proverbs 16:2.

All a man’s ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the Lord.

Hannibal Courier-Post